July 12, 2007

Kids, calves compete in ‘cowstume’ contest


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Kaitlyn Grant, 8, of Auburn, gets herself and her calf ready as Snow White and Happy of the seven dwarves during the animal costume contest held at the junior fairgrounds.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — As the rain pounded down on the roof of the barn full of children and cows, Christel Axtell and Patty Ripley folded a piece of purple cloth that would soon transform a run-of-the-mill calf into a royal steed and the mount of the fair Rapunzel.
Nine-year-old Caylie Axtell played the part of Rapunzel at the Cortland County Junior Fair Costume Contest on Wednesday afternoon, along with about 15 other contestants.
Christel Axtell said that with her daughter Caylie’s already long hair, it just made sense. But a little yarn helped to stretch it all out.
“I thought it would be cool if I could make it longer with a braid,” on top of her own hair, said Axtell, of Deposit in Broome County.
Patty Ripley said her seven grandchildren, including Caylie Axtell, and their seven respective cows were competing in the costume contest, as the parents and grandparents made last-minute adjustments to costumes on both humans and bovines.
All of the children came away winners — most were awarded $2 and a ribbon, but the grand prizewinner won $5 and a ribbon.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County Executive Director Syd McEvoy said the categories for the prizes are “flexible.”
“We like to teach spontaneity in 4-H; how to roll with the punches,” McEvoy joked as he and the fellow judges went over the competition rules and drew up some of the preliminary categories.
By the end, Kaitlyn Grant, playing Snow White, and her calf, Marlene (also known as Happy the Dwarf), had won the “Bravest Maiden with a Bearded Heifer” category.
Peter Pan (aka Evelyn Ripley, 8) won “Most Likely to Never Grow Up.”
“We chose Peter Pan because it’s easier to make my calf into Tinkerbell,” Ripley said, although Darling, her calf, did not appear likely to flit around the barn any time soon.
In what McEvoy said was an open attempt at a bribe — that apparently succeeded — Benjamin Axtell as Robin Hood won the prize in the “Most Earnest Entrepreneur” category, when he slyly guided his calf over to the judges table and redistributed some of King John’s chocolate to the needy judges from a bucket around the neck of his calf.
But it wasn’t chocolate that won the grand prize — Dorothy’s ruby-red slipper stole the attention of the judges.
Chelsea Horner said afterward that she had to go to E-Bay on the Internet to find the slippers, and that out of all the characters in the Wizard of Oz, it would be easiest to turn Tavy Too, her calf, into what ended up being a surprisingly convincing Cowardly Lion.
Thirteen-year-old Mercedes Slade, of Homer, said her family had been through a lot of themes for the show in years past: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, 101 Dalmatians, and even Fruit of the Loom. This year, they went with Things 1,2,3, and 4 from the Dr. Seuss book “The Cat In The Hat.”
The Cat was played by a large cow named Lucy, who often made it interesting for the Things and the other competitors when even just shifting her weight.
“The Cat in the Hat is black with a white stomach, and Lucy is black with a white stomach,” Slade explained.






County plans a statewide mailing to fill psychiatrist job

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Still badly in need of a staff psychiatrist at the county Department of Mental Health, the Health Committee decided Wednesday to take a new tack in recruiting candidates.
The committee suggested targeting qualified psychiatrists in New York state by mailing them literature promoting the position and promoting Cortland County as an enviable career destination.
The committee instructed Mike Kilmer, director of administrative services at the department, to purchase a mailing list of approximately 970 psychiatrists throughout the state from a company called American Medical Information at a rate of 50 cents a name, or $504 for the entire list.
Kilmer said he had already spent about $4,000 advertising the psychiatrist position in newspapers across the state, and that a different recruiting approach was needed.
The list of names could be broken down based on factors such as age, experience, location or specialty, Kilmer said.
Committee member Carol Tytler recommended that Kilmer target psychiatrists in locations where there are “higher densities of psychiatrists,” in hopes that a psychiatrist might be interested in relocating to an area with a greater need for services. The local office handles about 700 cases.
Tytler said she had spoken with local business and economic development leaders about preparing materials to market the area to psychiatrists.




Buckbee-Mears cleanup to take 10 more months

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The environmental cleanup of the Buckbee-Mears facility on Kellogg Road, scheduled to be completed this month, will stretch at least 10 months longer, a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
The EPA has been working on the site since January, and while it is nearing completion of the removal of hundreds of gallons of hazardous chemicals being stored in the vacant facility, significant work remains, according to agency spokesperson Pat Carr.
“Once we got in there and started working, we realized it was a lot more extensive than we thought,” Carr said.
Much of the additional work involves leaks from five production lines over the winter, Carr said.
The EPA found that at least two of those pipes had been flushed out prior to the facility’s closure in 2005, and it is unclear where the materials in the pipes were flushed to, Carr said.
The EPA will conduct a more comprehensive assessment of potential environmental contamination, Carr said, including a full assessment of spill areas within the facility and outside of it, and of groundwater and soils nearby.
With numerous large tanks full of corrosive acids, along with an estimated 4,000 smaller containers of paints, acids and other potentially dangerous chemicals, the cleanup was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of July.
Each material must be dealt with individually, according to the EPA. Some can be disposed of in a landfill or a recycling center, but some of the more dangerous chemicals will need to be neutralized and transported to a special facility.





Jury delivers split verdict in molestation case

Staff Reporter

A Freeville man accused of sexual molesting his stepdaughter’s 12-year-old friend was found not guilty Wednesday on one felony count in County Court after a two-day jury trial. He was convicted on two misdemeanors related to the same incident.
Amos J. Brown, 57, of 514 W. Dryden Road, was found not guilty of one count of first-degree criminal sex act, a felony, after almost nine hours of jury deliberations.
Brown was found guilty of one count of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors.
He will be sentenced on Sept. 13 on the misdemeanors, which carry a maximum of one year each in County Jail.
The felony that Brown was acquitted of carries a minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison.
Brown was accused of having oral sex with his daughter’s 12-year-old friend as well as fondling her, kissing her and giving her cigarettes in March 2006.
The jury found him not guilty of the oral sex but guilty of the other allegations.
During closing arguments of the trial on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Wendy Franklin argued that Brown committed the crimes while in his ex-wife’s city home.
Franklin said Brown came to the home where his ex-wife and daughter lived — and where his stepdaughter’s friend frequently spent the night — with groceries around 5 a.m. on March 25.
Franklin said Brown woke the girl up while she was sleeping on a couch in the living room. She said while the two were watching TV, Brown began kissing the girl’s neck and fondling her before performing oral sex on her.
Franklin said brown also bought the girl four packs of cigarettes prior to the incident.
Franklin said Brown’s ex-wife, Lisa Ladd Spector — who testified during the trial — saw Brown kissing the girl’s neck at some point during the incident and yelled at him for it.






County Planning Board endorses Suit-Kote projects

Staff Reporter

Expansion plans at Suit-Kote’s Lorings Crossing facility, and changes to plans at the asphalt company’s Polkville site, received the conditional recommendation of the Cortland County Planning Board on Wednesday night.
After first coming before the Cortlandville Planning Board in June, the proposals, and particularly the odors associated with the company’s activities, have sparked an outcry from neighbors who have butted heads with Suit-Kote in the past.
At the Lorings Crossing site, the company wants to install seven tanks for the storage of liquid asphalt emulsion at one corner and 20 additional tanks, for a variety of uses, at the other corner of the facility.
The expansion of the liquid asphalt storage — taking the total tank capacity from an existing 1,224,00 gallons to 1,860,000 gallons — would exceed the capacity of the secondary containment area that, in the event of a catastrophic tank failure, keeps any spills from escaping the facility.
Nevertheless, Planning Department Director Dan Dineen said the state Department of Environmental Conservation only requires that the containment area be able to hold the capacity of the largest tank within it.
The largest asphalt tank would be 158,000 gallons, well within the secondary containment system’s capacity.
Planning Board member Dave Miller was concerned about reducing roughly 144 percent containment capacity to 95 percent containment capacity, but Dineen said that it would be unlikely for more than one tank to fail at a time, barring an extreme disaster.
“In the unlikelihood that we had such a catastrophic failure of all the tanks, there would probably be issues with the containment area,” which would likely fail as well, Dineen said.
Suit-Kote Operations Manager Dick Schutz told the board that the containment system consists of an earthen berm around the perimeter, and that asphalt and gravel are used to seal off the surface.